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Posted at 6:49 PM ET, 04/ 5/2010

Backsliding on the bay?

By editors

By Diane M. Cameron
Chevy Chase

Forty years ago, scores of Americans celebrated the first Earth Day. A fitting anniversary would be the unobstructed adoption of the Maryland Stormwater Management Act of 2007. For the past three years, state officials have been working to craft regulations to implement this act. These regulations take effect in May and are considered crucial steps in the campaign to prevent the destruction of the Chesapeake Bay.

However, in response to a ruckus raised by developers and municipal governments, the legislative leadership in Annapolis drew up emergency regulations that would undo the advances approved in 2007. These regulations are set to be considered by a joint House-Senate committee Tuesday. The regulations would add to the $12.billion backlog of unmet stream-restoration costs in Maryland, and the public — not the polluters — will end up paying this gigantic bill.

Public health is also at issue. When rainwater runs off our roofs, streets and parking lots, it picks up all kinds of harmful material: lead and mercury, bacteria in dog waste, oil from vehicles. This stew infects our creeks, rivers and the bay.

Though developers have had three years to prepare for implementation of the law, they have demanded the exemption of possibly thousands of projects through expanded grandfathering and other rollbacks. These grandfathered projects will use the obsolete pavement-and-pipe approach to stormwater management, rather than 21st-century methods such as green roofs, rain-absorbing gardens and infiltration swales along streets.

These new methods demand innovation, an American specialty, and they translate into jobs on the development site, in the fabrication of construction materials and the monitoring and repair of the materials. The campaign for clean water can be a core part of the region’s economic health.

The writer is conservation director at the Audubon Naturalist Society of the Central Atlantic States.

By editors  | April 5, 2010; 6:49 PM ET
Categories:  Chesapeake Bay, HotTopic, Maryland  
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After years of happy talk about saving the Bay, now is the time for Maryland's public officials to follow through.

Posted by: mike78smith | April 6, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

The 11th hour gutting of the 2007 stormwater Act is shameful at best. Kudos to the legislators who are standing strong against this attempt to weaken and delay implementation of the provisions of the Stormwater act which have been carefully crafted over the past few years. Time is long past to implement commonsense low impact development techniques. For the health of the Bay, our economy and ourselves WE CANNOT AFFORD TO DELAY ANY LONGER!

Posted by: kathybear | April 6, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

The action speaks louder than the words. And the people who vote know this. Many voters are disgusted and disappointed with the constant failure of profitability taking precedence over our scarred and harmed environment - and how our developers continue to be hardheaded and build in ways that harm our land and our water, when all that is really being asked for is environmental checks and balances over a reasonable time period.

If this bill passes it will be obvious to all what the real fuel is ($$$) to these types of decisions...

So it is up to us as people, all of us as voters, as concerned citizens who care - To follow this issue and make our choices mindfully at our next election(s).

P>S> All in all, I would bet that if the builders, developers and politicians opened up their minds and really worked together with the people about what could be done here - they could make our communities even more beautiful, more dynamic, more caring and INCREASE the profit margin for everyone!

Posted by: FRGasper | April 6, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

The state gives just lip-service to cleaning the bay. They cave to developers and detergent companies.

Posted by: jckdoors | April 7, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

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